The Isle of Purbeck is a ridge of land at the western most end of approximately 98 miles of designated world heritage Jurassic coastline in Southern Dorset. 'The Purbecks' is a magical and nostalgic area full of dramatic coastlines, blue flag beaches, coves, ridges, valleys and is steeped in ancient and recent history. An ideal place to unwind, entertain the kids and take in the breathtaking scenery.
Studland Beach and Peninsular
The National Trust run beach Studland is 4 miles of golden sand with safe shallow swimming, the beach is divided into 4 sections; South Beach, Middle Beach, Knoll Beach, and Shell Bay, each beach has a National Trust car park or they are easily accessed by bike from the campsite along quiet level tracks.
South Beach is the nearest to Old Harry Rocks as is narrower than the other stretches but has a much more relaxed vibe, dogs on leads are allowed year round and the beach has a small hut cafe and beach toys to borrow. Just about the beach is the Banks Arms which holds a very popular annual beer festival at the beginning of August, it is also home to the Isle of Purbeck micro brewery making some excellent local ales.
Middle and Knoll beaches are probably the most popular areas and are thus most developed, with Knoll beach having a large shop, information centre, café, toilets, and watersports hire. Middle Beach has a cafe and toilets and is home to Studland Sea School whom rent out kayaks to explore the calm Studland waters. Between Knoll Beach and Shell Bay is the most popular naturist beach in Britain, and a heathland nature reserve extends from the beach westerly inland almost back to campsite.
Shell Bay is located at the very point of the Studland peninsular next to the Swanage Bournemouth chain ferry, there is free parking along the access road to the ferry and again dogs are allowed on leads, this is probably the widest beach with the deepest swimming and if you walk around the point the quietest.
Swanage is a costal town and historically was a very popular Victorian seaside resort. The beach is sand gently sloping divided by groynes, it is well serviced with plentiful ice cream parlours, fish and chip shops and cafes. There are pedaloes, deck chairs and other beach paraphernalia to hire or buy, along with two amusement arcades to rid you of your change. It is the quintessential traditional seaside town. There is a wide range of shops in Swanage, with a small number of medium sized outlets from major retailers, a collection of local retailers, a number of cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs. For a more grown up vibe Tawny's Wine bar regards special mention as a great place to eat. Durlston Castle and Country
Park sits to the south above Swanage, it is an extraordinary Victorian building nestled on the cliff tops, with an educational welcome centre, art exhibitions, cafe and shop within the grounds sits the 10ft wide 40 ton Great Globe dating from 1887. Take a walk along the cliff top paths and try to spot a dolphin out a sea or the puffins nesting on the cliffs below, and rare peregrine falcons are often seen in the summer months soaring through the sky.Swanage carnival week at the end of July/beginning of August each year, and has a display from the Red Arrows, a bright and dance filled carnival procession, live music, entertainment and competitions for children, a small fair, and firework displays over the bay creating a beautiful reflections on the night sea. For the Red Arrows we highly suggest walking up the ridge through the Gleb in Studland to view the display from the top, there you get an unrivalled almost parallel view of the planes as they brightly decorate the sky above the bay.
There area also a popular music festivals with, a Jazz festival in mid July, a folk festival in early September, and a Blues festival at the beginning of October.
Wareham is a historic market town situated between the River Frome and River Piddle it is a tranquil town with a market every Thursday and Saturday, with a wide range of delicious local produce. The town tends to be less busy that Swanage and has some excellent local food shops and delicatessens and Curtis a brilliant family run butchers, a wide array of charity shops for a good rummage.Its is a Saxon walled town meaning it is surrounded by earth ramparts and was one of the most important Saxon towns towards the end of that era. The Quay is great place to stop for a drink or an ice cream in the sunshine and watch the river flow by, row boats are available for hire and near by in ridge.
Jurassic coast and other beaches apart from the sand beaches at Studland and Swanage the area has a plethora of alternative beaches on the south side of the Isle of Purbeck. Chapmans Pool is a firm favourite, park in car park just through the village of Worth Matravers and wander down, there are no facilities there but its absolutely lovely.
Kimmeridge bay is another great beach, less for swimming more for investigating rock pools and looking for fossils, there are loos and often an icecream van along with a biology centre. In the actual village the Clavells Cafe and shop does some lovely homemade locally sourced food.Two other popular excursions are Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door both are very popular and can be pretty busy in summer.
A little known and visited area is the fossil forest, it is just through the gateway in the ranges on the far side of Lulworth Cove and turn hard right along the fence line and down the steps. It is the most complete fossilised record of a Jurassic forest in the world. For those more adventurous head further along the coastal path to Mupe Rocks/Bay.
- Corfe Castle - with a number of pubs, a stream railway and the famous castle this little village offers a great day out for all the family
- Lulworth - has fantasic walks, a pebble beach and of course the amazing geology of the cove. Further afield lie the remains of Lulworth Castle which was gutted by fire in 1929
- Studland - a small village famous for the miles of golden sandy beach and the lowland heath nature reserve
- Swanage - located on the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, Swanage is a busy tourist town with a pebbly beach, many pubs and the Swanage railway.
- Tyneham - the remains of Tyneham sit in the middle of the army ranges, it was evacuated in 1943 for miltary training
- Wareham - this historic Saxon town has a busy market by the Quay on Saturday mornings and a farmers market on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month